What is ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Genpril, Midol) is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. It is generally used for relieving pain and fever. Ibuprofen acts by reducing the production of certain substances called prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation in the body. Thus, the medication does not treat the underlying condition. It only relieves symptoms, such as pain, cramps and fever.
Ibuprofen can be used in adults and children older than six months of age. The medication is available in pediatric (for infants and children) and adult formulations. It is available both as an over-the-counter and prescription drug. It is available in several forms, including tablets, chewable tablets, suspensions, suppositories and capsules.
What is ibuprofen used for?
Ibuprofen is used in several conditions, such as
- Abdominal pain
- Menstrual cramps
- Sprains and strains
- Muscle aches and soreness
- Fever as seen in cold and flu, COVID-19 and other infections
- Arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gout
Before taking ibuprofen
- Inform the pharmacist or doctor of any drug allergies, especially allergies to ibuprofen, other NSAIDs (such as naproxen, ketoprofen) or aspirin.
- Inform the doctor or pharmacist about any medications taken by the patient, such as multivitamins, supplements, herbal products, blood pressure or heart medications (ACE inhibitors, ARBs, beta-blockers and water pills or diuretics), lithium and methotrexate.
- Avoid taking ibuprofen with any other pain reliever unless the doctor asks you to do so.
- Inform the doctor about any underlying health conditions, such as
- Inform the doctor if the medication has to be given to a child with diarrhea or vomiting.
- Inform the doctor if the patient is pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to get pregnant.
- The patient must inform the doctor if they have a genetic condition called phenylketonuria.
If there is surgery (including dental surgery) planned, the patient must tell the surgeon or dentist if they are taking ibuprofen. Ibuprofen must also be used with caution in individuals who are 75 years of age or older.
What are the side effects of ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is generally safe when taken within the prescribed doses. Its common side effects may include
- Bloating or gas
- Ringing in the ears
- Fluid retention
- Skin peeling or rashes
Ibuprofen may cause certain serious symptoms, which demand discontinuation of the drug and urgent medical attention. These symptoms include
- An excessive and unexplained weight gain
- Difficulty or pain while urinating
- Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
- Swelling over the face, eyes, arms, hands, abdomen, feet, ankles or lower legs
- Skin rashes, itching, hives or blisters
- Difficulty in talking or hoarseness
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Excessive fatigue
- Pain in the right upper part of the abdomen
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Yellowing of skin and eyes
- Racing heartbeat or palpitations
- Cloudy, discolored or bloody urine
- Vision problems, such as blurred vision or changes in color vision
- Redness or pain in the eyes
- Confusion, dizziness or fainting
- Severe headache
- Neck stiffness
- Bleeding from any site in the body or the appearance of bluish-purple patches on the skin
The United States Food and Drug Administration has cautioned against excessive use of any painkiller, including ibuprofen. The excess use of these medications over a long time has been linked to increased incidents of heart attacks and stroke.